St. Joseph County 4H Fair

On July 1, 2019 ND Energy went to the St. Joseph County 4H Fair.

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“This is the best part of the fair,” exclaimed a woman who was entertaining her two granddaughters for the week. She had found the children’s science exhibition in the Nature Center at this summer’s St. Joseph County 4H Fair. Organized by ND Energy at the request of the fair board, five groups from Notre Dame and a member of South Bend’s Green Corps entertained fairgoers with hands-on science and engineering activities.

The granddaughters, along with other fairgoers, had the opportunity to learn about the source of their drinking water from a 3-D model explained by Brett Peters from the Environmental Change Initiative. Caitlin Hodges and Allison Mihalich from Notre Dame’s Office of Sustainability provided the quintessential rubber duckies to help visitors learn about recycling. An AmeriCorps member from South Bend’s Green Corps, Susan Soisson, helped children create artwork from would-be trash. ND Energy provided an opportunity to create art while explaining the importance of separation processes in energy research.

In addition, two ND Energy affiliated laboratories participated in the event. Prof. Alexander Dowling and graduate students Bridgette Befort and Alejandro Garciadiego challenged children to maximize the number of “cookies” they could create from a square of playdough. This activity gave participants a sense of the computational frameworks being developed to optimize energy technologies. The group also used Sudoku puzzles to explain how computers have revolutionized our ability to solve complex puzzles. 

Prof. Sangpil Yoon’s lab was represented by graduate students Sunho Moon and Sunghoon Rho, along with postdoctoral researcher Azahar Ali. They amplified ultrasound waves to create a miniature water fountain and used Slinkies to provide a hands-on model of energy and wave motion. They also used black lights and fluorescent materials to further demonstrate that there is more to energy than meets the eye.

ND Energy supports affiliated faculty in their research by facilitating engagement activities and as part of its mission to educate and influence the broader community toward a more sustainable energy future. For more information, contact Anne Berges Pillai,